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Cancer Misdiagnosis Claims
The importance of diagnosing cancer early is well known; the sooner cancer is detected, the earlier it can be treated, and the more likely it is that the patient will experience a positive outcome. Sadly, many cancer patients in the UK are initially misdiagnosed, resulting in devastating delays accessing treatment and specialist care.
If you or a loved one has been affected by cancer misdiagnosis, we can help you to secure the answers and compensation you deserve.
What is cancer?
There are more than 200 types of cancer, including breast, bowel and brain. Every year more than 300,000 people are diagnosed with a form of cancer making it one of the country’s most common diseases. The study of cancer is known as oncology and oncologists are doctors who specialise in the cancer treatments. Cancer is caused by mutations in the body’s cells; the mutations disrupt the cells’ normal growth patterns and cause the cells to grow uncontrollably and form hard lumps known as tumours. Other cancers, however, present differently; leukaemia is a cancer of the blood which is characterised not by tumours, but by abnormally high amounts of white blood cells in the blood. If cancer is not treated quickly, it has the potential to spread to other parts of the body via the blood, causing secondary cancers. Breakthroughs in medicine now mean that many cancers can be treated, particularly if caught early, and more and more people are surviving cancer than ever before.
What is cancer misdiagnosis?
Cancer misdiagnosis occurs when a patient’s cancer is either not diagnosed, or diagnosis of their cancer is delayed as a result of clinical negligence. Every type of cancer is different and identifying cancer in a patient can be difficult. Cancers behave very differently from one another, with some producing obvious symptoms that can be noticeably observed and others behaving more subtly. Some cancers, such as some forms of prostate cancer, are slow-growing cancers, whereas others progress quickly. Even so, the emergence of medical techniques such as computer imaging and biopsy mean all cases of suspected cancer should be diagnosed by a GP or a specialist. Failing to diagnose cancer can have severe ramifications. For some patients, by the time a cancer diagnosis is finally given, the cancer has sadly become terminal and their life expectancy has been affected. For others, more invasive procedures and treatments may be required as a direct result of the delay, potentially affecting their quality of life. Patients mistakenly misdiagnosed with other illnesses may have also taken medications that they did not need and may have suffered as a result of their side-effects.
GPs may misdiagnose cancer by:
- Not investigating a patient’s symptoms thoroughly enough, or failing to refer a patient to a specialist. Many cases of cancer misdiagnosis could have been avoided had GPs referred patients for specialist tests; healthcare professionals should be acutely aware of the potential symptoms of cancer, and ensure all patients presenting with cancer symptoms are referred for further investigation promptly and without delay.
- Incorrectly attributing a patient’s presenting symptoms to another, less serious conditions. Cancers such as lung cancer and bowel cancer are commonly misdiagnosed as other, less sinister diseases, such as pneumonia or irritable bowel syndrome, respectively.
Delays and mistakes at the hospital can also result in cancer misdiagnosis:
- Delays performing biopsies and other investigative procedures can result in cancers being diagnosed later when they are more difficult to treat
- X-ray and other computer imaging results can be incorrectly interpreted, resulting in false reassurances to patients and treatment delays
Can I claim?
If you have been affected by misdiagnosis, you have the right to make a claim for compensation. The compensation you receive may help to alleviate some of the financial pressures of your cancer diagnosis, such as loss of earnings and private medical expenses. If you are claiming on behalf of a loved one who has sadly passed away, compensation could be awarded to help with funeral costs. A statutory bereavement award (totalling a sum of £12,980) can also be paid out to family members in the event that the death is ruled as wrongful.
To make a claim, contact us today and fill out our online contact form. Our team of dedicated, compassionate and approachable solicitors are on hand to discuss your case with you and offer the guidance and support you need to make a successful claim. We will fight your corner for you, treating your case with understanding and dignity, and using our experience to ensure you receive the answers and compensation you deserve.